SOUTHINGTON — Children at My Little Rascals on North Main Street get a hand stamp at the beginning of the day. If they are washing their hands enough, the stamp should be gone by the end of the day.
Lori Roccapriore, director of My Little Rascals, said it’s one of the measures they’re taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“We’re trying our best to keep open, to keep healthy,” she said.
With more parents working from home or out of work, daycare providers are seeing less demand. They’re also wary of possible orders to close down. This week, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker closed city daycares with more than 12 children.
Jaclyn Kish, owner of My Little Rascals, said closure would be difficult for children of healthcare employees and other essential workers. Some of the daycare’s parents are nurses.
“It seems like a last resort,” Kish said of a possible closure order.Available for child care
With schools closed, teachers and others out of work have advertised on social media for child care work.
Marion Tavano, a Cheshire resident, runs the Darcey School kitchen and ran a daycare prior to working for Cheshire Public Schools. She’s been talking with a few interested parents, but hasn’t been hired yet.
“Everybody is trying to figure out, ‘should I bring people in, should I stay home?’ ” Tavano said. “That’s been a question for a couple of them.”
Parents have also asked about rates.
“If they’re out of work, who knows if they’re getting paid,” said Tavano, who applied for unemployment after Darcey School closed.
“I’m assuming I’ll get that paycheck from two weeks ago on my pay date which is coming up, but I don’t know,” she said. “None of us know.”
Erin Robinson, a Naugatuck Valley Community College student, hoped to get some child care jobs while out of school.
“I haven’t had many people message me so far with requests for child care ... I have had some parents message me asking if I’d be available in the event that daycares are closed down,” Robinson said.Local daycares
Joanne Kelleher, president of the Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington, said the only private daycare to close so far in town was the YMCA. She’s keeping a list of daycare facilities with available space.
“So far the directors are really struggling with trying to manage themselves and keep their staff safe, their children safe, yet providing a place for parents to send their children,” Kelleher said.
Some are trying to decide whether to charge parents who are keeping their children home. Closures or reduced attendance could be damaging to child care workers.
“The child care industry is really struggling, because most of the workers are being paid minimum wage or close to it,” Kelleher said.
Southington has 26 in-home daycares, according to Kelleher. They’d be unaffected if an order to close was similar to New Haven’s.No visitors
Parents at My Little Rascals are dropping off children at the door rather than going inside. Other than teachers and students, there are no visitors to the facility, Roccapriore said.
Any children with fevers, even low grade, are sent home. There’s frequent handwashing and disinfecting and belongings are sent home every day rather than once a week.
“We’re staying open until of course the state closes down,” Roccapriore said. “We’re doing the best we can.”